Document Type

Collaborative Scholarship


People who believe in a relational, personal deity, conceptualize god(s) as intentional agents with mental states. Hence it follows that mentalizing or theory of mind may be one of the cognitive foundations of religious belief and behavior. This study examined this relationship as it corresponds to reported prayer experiences, intimacy with god, and experience of agentic evil.

About the Author

Dr. Laird Edman specializes in the cognitive science of religion, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and teaching and assessing critical thinking. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology that focused on cognition and learning from the University of Minnesota, as well as master’s degrees in counseling psychology and English literature from the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Edman’s research has been published in The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, The Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Psychological Reports, The Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Resources in Education, Teaching and Learning in Honors, and The National Honors Report. He has also presented papers, workshops and seminars at the annual conferences of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion, National Collegiate Honors Council, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and American Educational Research Association.

Chris Sietstra, Molly Townsend, Riley Harder, Corey Kundert, Hope DeRuyter, Rebekah Muilenberg, and Virginia Kjer are current and former students at Northwestern College.



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